As cliché as it sounds, no truer words can be said in regards to time: it waits for no one. I often wish I had more time with my older brother. For 8 years now we’ve been distant in more ways than mere proximity. People grow apart. I know this isn’t an uncommon dynamic within a family. But I have to believe that any weakness in the relationship between my brother and I is not only within my grasp to mend, but should be mended.
I still think back to the beginning of my sophomore year in college when my parents gave me a car to return to school with. I absolutely loved that car. Even today, every Ford Focus that I spot on the road is a reminder of the amazing times I had during the early months of that school year. But in the middle of February, my brother had fallen on hard times. This wasn’t unlike any other month that year as 2007 proved to be one of the roughest years he had ever seen. With his car in shambles, he had no transportation, no way to get to work. The conversation was short. He assured me he would have my car returned to me before April and that was enough for me. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t reluctant, yet ultimately, I was more than willing. After all, he was my older and only brother; it felt right to be apart of anything that would advance him.
But when April turned into May, and May turned into June, my patience grew faint. By June, I had committed to working at a summer camp 5 hours away from home which obviously meant I had to find other means of transportation, hence even more frustration. At camp, being out in the middle of nowhere and extremely busy, I can count on one hand how many times I held a phone to my ear. Unfortunately, receiving this voicemail was one of those times: “Hey Steve, this is your brother Mike. Dad wanted me to let you know that the car is wrecked. You can call me if you have any questions about it.”
You can bet I called, but it didn’t help a thing. We didn’t speak again for almost half a year.
To this day I haven’t truly forgiven my brother. My choice for not talking to him was out of bitterness and spite. Should he have been a little more careful with something that wasn’t his? Probably. And from what I heard about the accident, it was more his fault than anyone else’s. But am I really willing to give up a relationship with my older brother just because I lost a car? Am I willing to put a material possession over my family, my flesh and blood? I struggle with these questions even today.
Two years later, still with no car, I’m forced to be reminded of what it means to truly forgive. This lesson is not easily swallowed, in fact, it takes all of me. But God’s love is unfathomable. I think back and forth to everything I’ve done in this life to disappoint God. The list is long; the list is shameful. Yet in his incomprehensible nature, He looks past the thick surface of my faults and embraces me as one of his own. How can I not turn around and do the same for my brother?
Everyday, in some way shape or form, it’s like we wreck a brand new Ford Focus that God lets us borrow. But instead of not speaking to us for 6 months (that would be utter darkness) he remains faithful, even when we are not. I know that everything in my 22 years of life has been gift wrapped and given to me from the hands of God. We own nothing on this earth: no material possessions, clothing items, electronic devices, or friends that we can take with us when we are called home. Yet, often we’re so attached to these temporary assets and belongings that we would sacrifice relationships if they were taken from us. Negating the very reason why we were created on this earth, to love and be loved.
One of the greatest things you can do for someone is forgive them. It will heal their lives. The act of forgiving someone doesn’t mean the wounds will disappear. But in doing this, maybe I will gain one more step in reviving a bond that used to be great. It’s been so easy to hold on to my hurt and feelings of resentment. But on the days that I choose to be honest with myself, I acknowledge how badly I miss the relationship that I once had with my big brother.
Stephen is a senior at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. His hobbies include writing, telling people I don’t watch television because it makes me sound interesting, and running around in my musical mansion.